Here, as promised yesterday, is the guide to learning an instrument without a teacher. The steps are remarkably similar to that of learning by using a teacher, but there are some distinct differences.

1. Decide which instrument you want to play

This is still number one on the list. You must know the instrument you want to play before you can get started. Look for a post soon on how to select the instrument that’s right for you. Remember, you don’t have to go for something mainstream, like piano, guitar, or violin. There are thousands to pick from.

2. Buy the instrument

When you work with a teacher, you have accountability, which is a great motivator. Without the teacher, motivation will be more tricky. By buying your instrument, you are making a big investment. You won’t want to see your money go to waste. This will help you continue to work through the rough beginning.

3. Learn to read music

This is where the list begins to change. Many people are capable of learning to play an instrument by ear. This is fantastic. However, whether you are capable of this or not, the ability to read music will prove invaluable as you progress in your ability to play. I have a beginners guide that you can read, but this is only enough to get you started.

An important thing is to make sure that you understand how reading of music relates to your instrument. It does you no good to be able to look at a piece of music and tell me what notes are there, if you cannot play it on the instrument. You must learn how to play a particular note on your instrument when you need to. This can be accomplished many different ways. Books, internet lessons, or by simply experimenting.

4. Find some resources

Obviously you need something to play. Chances are your local music store(s) has beginner books for your instrument. This is the point in time where you need to swallow your pride and simply start small. If you begin by playing Mary Had a Little Lamb, don’t feel stupid. It doesn’t matter that it’s a children’s song. It’s a start. When I started playing guitar, the first song I learned was simply the G string plucked over and over again to a backing track. Doesn’t get more simple then that. If you stick with the instrument though, you will be playing more interesting stuff before to long.

5. Practice, practice, PRACTICE

This is still the most important part. It cannot be stressed enough. You will get better with practice. I promise you. One hour a day for a month, and you will make a huge amount of progress. Make yourself practice even if you don’t want to. You will never get passed Mary Had a Little Lamb without it. If, after that month of practicing an hour a day, you have not improved significantly. You can come to me and I will refund the price of your instrument.

So, in short. You can learn an instrument without a teacher. You just have to want to bad enough.

What about you? Have you learned to play an instrument without the use of a teacher? I would love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below to tell me about your experiences.

Categories: Music Basics
  • Megan

    Hi, I’m really new at this and was wondering if I should learn how to read music first or learn to play an instrument first?